CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.
Kyra Sedgwick, Ensemble Cast Continue to Bring it Home on ‘The Closer’
Television Rating: 3.5/5.0
CHICAGO – TNT’s “The Closer” has an easy-going charm that rarely gets the critical praise it deserves but has turned the show into one of the most highly rated scripted program on basic cable. “The Closer” beats most network programs and is, cable or not, one of the bigger hits on TV. The mid-season premiere, “Good Faith,” airing Monday, January 26th, 2009, makes it easy to see why.
Fritz and Brenda Leigh share a moment
Photo credit: Alan Markfeld
What separates “The Closer” from a lot of similar programming is the ease with which the writers smoothly segue between family humor and grisly murder. The kind of tonal juggling that can make a wedding cake tasting at a precinct while they discuss the latest case both believable and humorous is harder to pull off than it looks.
Photo credit: Alan Markfeld
“The Closer” is a program about a woman who can read and predict human behavior, a detective, and it’s a better-than-average crime drama because its creators work to create believable human behavior themselves. And it doesn’t hurt to have one of the best actresses on television in your lead role.
Kyra Sedgwick is simply perfect and her supporting cast, particularly the great J.K. Simmons and G.W. Bailey, never miss a beat. Sedgwick will always be the face of the show. Bailey himself once told me that the series will end when she wants it to. But the value of a supporting ensemble on a show like “The Closer” can sometimes be under-valued. Everyone on the show is good.
Having made my critical respect for the ensemble of “The Closer” and the skilled tone shifts by the writers, the mid-season premiere suffers from the same problem I usually have with the series. What holds it back from jumping from a nice diversion when I happen to catch it to appointment programming is the lack of intriguing mysteries. I rarely find the actual crimes and their resolutions as intriguing as, say, the ones on “The Mentalist,” “Bones,” or “Life”. The characters on “The Closer” are fantastic, the mysteries are so-so.
The mid-season premiere, “Good Faith,” is another episode about Brenda juggling a personal life - this time getting ready for a marriage - with solving a new case, a suicide that doesn’t add up. The Medical Examiner believes it’s a cut-and-dry suicide but Brenda and her team know better. In another case of bad timing, Brenda’s hysterical parents continue to take her away from the case as they try to plan their daughter’s wedding.
The mystery is never that interesting and the ending is abrupt. Far more interesting is a shocking and painful personal twist in Brenda’s life. “The Closer” needs to work to make the cases in Brenda’s life as interesting as the character herself.
Well, to be fair, “The Closer” doesn’t need to do anything. They’re doing everything right for legions of fans. I think there’s still room for the show to go from good to great, but it’s hard to even find series as consistently entertaining as this one. And nothing has changed significantly between last summer and the mid-season premiere. No, the only bad news we have for fans is that there are only six episodes left in the fourth season.